A 70-foot landing craft that had limped its way across the Gulf of Alaska made an emergency landing on the Homer Spit about 9:45 a.m. this morning. All hands on the Daniel D. Takak survived without harm. A Good Samaritan boat assisting, the Egavik, pushed the Daniel D. Takak to shore when it lost power in both engines. The ships grounded on the beach below the Cannery Row Boardwalk and across from the Salty Dawg. Both ships are owned by Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation and are freight landing craft designed to offload cargo on beaches. They had been traveling together from Port Townsend, Wash., where the Daniel D. Takak had been refurbished.
There were no reports of fuel spilling, said Homer Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins. The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Homer is monitoring the scene.
The Daniel D. Takak first ran into trouble on Wednesday about 100 miles south of Cordova when it started taking on water. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Kodiak and a HC-130 Hercules airplane crew responded, according to a Coast Guard press release. The Coast Guard dropped dewatering pumps and a rescue swimmer went to the boat to help. Crew on the Egavik also responded. They got the Daniel D. Takak pumped out and patched the hole in the hull. With the Daniel D. Takak’s engines running, both ships then made their way to Homer.
The Homer Harbor office had been following the Daniel D. Takak’s progress since about 7 a.m. The initial plan was for the Capt. Greg Alexander to land the Daniel D. Takak on the beach by Pier One Theater on the Mud Bay side of the Spit. The ship would assess the damage, make a better patch and then go dry on the steel grid in the harbor.
“Harbormasters are really cautious about bringing sinking boats into their harbor,” Hawkins said. “That was our plan.”
About 4 miles off the Spit, however, the Daniel D. Takak lost power and started taking on water faster. Kachemak Bay was almost flat calm this morning, with no surf or whitecaps. Deputy harbormaster Matt Clarke went out in his own boat, a Boston Whaler, with more pumps. The Bay Link, a Homer Ocean Charters water taxi, also took a pump out, and the Blackfish, of Ashore Water Taxi, stood by.
“It was just a fight. The water was already on deck then. It had breached the coaming and was running into the galley,” Hawkins said. “The engine was flooded.”
From the beach, onlookers could see that the Daniel D. Takak had listed toward the starboard stern. Dave Lyon on the Blackfish said when he first arrived the Daniel D. Takak’s name on the stern was above water, but by the time it got to the beach had gone under.
“I told them to come straight for the beach,” Hawkins said. “Take the first beach you can reach.”
Alexander saw the Salty Dawg and decided to head straight for it.
“I figured that would be a good place for me to land,” Alexander could be heard saying on the VHF radio. “I’m going to need a drink after this.”
On the incoming tide both ships continued to move up the beach. The Egavik stayed rafted to the Daniel D. Takak. Hawkins said the ships will go dry on the low tide and damage assessed better.
“It will look ugly for a while,” Hawkins said. “We’ll get it refloated and start working the problem.”
The Coast Guard praised the Daniel D. Takak’s captain and crew for keeping the incident from becoming worse.
“The Takak crew did everything right in a situation like this. That had proper survival gear on board and activated their electronic position indicating radio beacon so the Coast Guard could quickly find them,” said OS1 James Fangman of Coast Guard District 17. “The willingness of the other Alaskan boaters, like the crew of the Egavik, to assist in these situations greatly increases our efforts in keeping Alaska’s maritime family safe.”
Tyler Rhodes, NDSEC communications director, said the corporation is assessing the incident.
“Paramount to us is everybody’s safety during the whole incident,” he said.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.